June 24, 2014
A New Champion in Direct Selling Education
by Lauren Lawley Head
Education: Texas Christian University, bachelor of arts in political science and communication
Personal: A Dallas, Texas, native, Huggins now resides in Laurel, Maryland, with his wife and four children, ages 15, 13, 10 and 7
Point of interest: served on George H. W. Bush’s 1988 presidential campaign and Inaugural Committee
After an extensive search, the Direct Selling Education Foundation has chosen its next Executive Director, Gary Huggins.
Huggins comes to the Foundation with deep experience in education reform, innovation, policy and advocacy. He most recently served as CEO of the National Summer Learning Association, an organization that serves as a network hub for thousands of summer learning program providers and stakeholders.
Huggins also served as Director of the Aspen Institute’s Commission on No Child Left Behind, a bipartisan, independent effort dedicated to improving the No Child Left Behind Act, as well as Executive Director of the Education Leaders Council, Education Leaders Action Council, and CSCV, a coalition of corporations, small businesses, and consumer and environmental groups that promoted market-based environmental solutions.
“I am so pleased we were able to introduce Gary Huggins as DSEF’s Executive Director at DSA’s Annual Meeting,” said Amway Chief Sales Officer and DSEF Board Chairman John Parker. “Gary brings a wealth of knowledge and experience that will equip him well in leading DSEF. If you did not have a chance to meet Gary in person in Orlando, I hope you do soon.”
Though he officially begins the role July 7, Huggins attended the Direct Selling Association’s Annual Meeting in Orlando in June and spent some time talking with Direct Selling News.
On June 5, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals issued its long-awaited opinion in the case of the Federal Trade Commission vs. the multi-level music marketing company BurnLounge. The Direct Selling Association had filed an amicus brief in the case, asserting that internal consumption qualifies as a legitimate sale. The 9th Circuit affirmed the U.S. District Court’s decision that BurnLounge was an illegal pyramid scheme, but it also affirmed the principle that compensation to direct sellers based on their consumption is legitimate—excellent news for the direct selling community.
The opinion was issued while the DSA Annual Meeting was in progress, so it naturally got some attention. Here are some snapshots of what was said:
“The preliminary reading is actually quite good,” DSA President Joe Mariano told meeting attendees that afternoon. “…I think we can be positive and say that some of the work that we have been doing over the last year, two years and indeed for generations, has had an impact and effect on at least partially educating the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.”
“I don’t think BurnLounge today is going to be the catalyst to change the short position on Herbalife,” Canaccord Genuity Managing Director Scott Van Winkle said during the question-and-answer portion of a workshop entitled The Wall Street View. “I think it helps. I think it is one more building block.”
“I’m excited to be here and excited about this industry,” he said.
Huggins says he will be identifying and developing his priorities in the coming months but knows supporting the Foundation’s academic initiatives will be key. Having university professors and others understand the direct selling business model is important, he says, so that they include discussion of the channel when they teach students about entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial opportunities.
“My work in education has always been very supportive of entrepreneurship in education,” he said. “We (direct selling) ought to be part of Main Street conversations about entrepreneurship.”
It might be the middle of summer, but in many ways it feels like the start of a new year. The Direct Selling News Global 100 celebration and the Direct Selling Association’s 2014 Annual Meeting are behind us, and it’s now time to dig into the work ahead. These are critical times for the direct selling community. Let’s approach the opportunities—and tackle the challenges—head on.
Lauren Lawley Head